November 27, 1915: Death of renowned Superior architect Earl Barber

On this day across the bay in 1915, architect Earl Barber died unexpectedly of a heart attack. He was sixty years old. According to the Manitoba Historical Society, Barber was born at Athens, Ontario, and by 1880 as living in Winnepeg, Ontario, working as a draftsman for his brother Charles, an architect. By 1884 the pair had formed the partnership of Barber & Barber and were popular and productive during Winnipeg’s 1882–1884 building boom, producing prominent buildings including the city’s 1886 City Hall. By 1887, however, their style had fallen out of favor in Manitoba, and in late 1887 they moved to the Head of the Lakes, with Charles establishing an office in Duluth and Earl setting up shop in Superior. A few years later Charles returned to Winnipeg but Earl remained in Superior and became one of its more prominent architects, designing such landmark structures as the Superior Federal Building (1401 Tower Avenue; 1908; extant) and Superior Central High School (1015 Belknap Street; 1909; lost) and with his brother Charles, Duluth’s Park Terrace townhouses (801 W. First Street; 1890; lost). The architect’s funeral was held at Hammond Avenue Presbyterian Church at the northwest corner of Hammond Avenue and Belknap Street—a building Barber himself designed. The land for the property was donated by the Land and River Improvement Company, owned by Robert Belknap and General John Hammond, the men for whom those streets were named. The church is now home to the Harrington Arts Center.

Hammond Avenue Presbyterian Church, ca. 1912. (Image: Zenith City Press)